Michael Spavor, a Canadian businessman, was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a court in Liaoning province on alleged “espionage” charges after being detained for nearly three years. The Canadian Prime Minister and the U.S. Secretary of State condemned the lack of transparency of the legal proceedings conducted behind “closed doors.”
Although the communist authorities deny it, the 2018 arrest of Spavor was made in retaliation to the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was detained days earlier at Vancouver airport at the request of the U.S. justice department.
Wanzhou is accused of having violated U.S. economic sanctions against Iran and the legal procedure to be extradited to the United States is in its final stage. That is why the Canadian’s sentence is called by the media “hostage diplomacy.”
The weak case against Michael Spavor
According to The Guardian, Spavor was involved in tourism between the West, China, and North Korea.
In fact, due to his friendship with dictator Kim Jong-un, the Canadian was responsible for arranging meetings between basketball player Dennis Rodman and the North Korean leader, which led to the visit of former President Trump to North Korea and managed to put an end to nuclear threats from the communist country.
Chinese authorities accuse Spavor of providing intelligence to a former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig, who was also arrested. However, Beijing did not disclose details of the case to the press.
According to Breitbart, the Canadian ambassador in Beijing, Dominic Barton, stated that the only evidence they have against Spavor are some photos he took of military planes parked at an airport.
Barton attended the hearing in which Spavor was convicted but was refused entry citing that the case involved “national secrets.” The sentence was handed down in March but was only announced publicly this Wednesday in what was perhaps a CCP strategy to stop Canada from extraditing the Huawei executive.
The lack of transparency of the CCP in the proceedings that ended with the Canadian’s sentencing attracted international condemnation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Today’s verdict for Mr. Spavor comes after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention, a lack of transparency in the legal process and a trial that did not satisfy even the minimum standards required by international law.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken issued a press release condemning the CCP’s common practice of arbitrary arrests and sentencing.
“We stand with the international community in calling for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to release, immediately and unconditionally, Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig,” Blinken wrote.
“Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig have not received the minimal procedural protections during their more than two-and-a-half-year arbitrary detention,” the senior U.S. official stated. “The practice of arbitrarily detaining individuals to exercise leverage over foreign governments is completely unacceptable. People should never be used as bargaining chips.”
Blinken cited the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and China-Canada Consular Agreement demanding that the CCP give access to the case files of both Canadians whose legal proceedings lacked full transparency.
Both Canada’s and the United States’ diplomatic relations with China are at their worst due to the repeated violations of international norms by the CCP, such as the case of the Canadians arrested in retaliation for the Huawei executive.
Corrupt judicial system
Examples of judges convicting innocent people with evidence fabricated by police officers or directly without evidence and by the simple will of the judge, are commonplace in communist China, which lacks a division of powers as in some Western countries. Instead, the courts work for the one Party.
According to a report from a website dedicated to documenting the genocide against practitioners of Falun Dafa, a discipline of the Buddha School, persecuted by the Chinese regime since 1999, there have been many instances where practitioners are sentenced to prison without fair legal procedure.
At hearings, judges do not allow defense lawyers to present their defense, end the hearing abruptly and deliver an extremely heavy verdict against the defendants.
In a report on April 12, 2013, the Zhenxing District Court prosecuted Mr. Chen Xinye for his faith.
Judge Tao Zhanhua instructed two court police officers to eject the defense lawyers from the courtroom, saying, “So be it. Because you didn’t show due respect for me, I won’t show you any, either.” When it was pointed out to him that he was violating procedure he replied, “What violation of the law? So long as the Communist Party is in power, I’ll never bear any responsibility.”